Quintessential eighties rock band Choirboys are back, although as lead singer Mark Gable confirms, they have never really been away. ‘Unlike a lot of other bands from that era,” he says, “we never really broke up.” Mark tells me that the band formed in 1976 and has been functioning professionally since 1978. “The line-up has changed over time,” he explains, “and the original members haven’t been back together for eighteen years but this now is the original line-up. This is the line-up that you hear on ‘Run to Paradise’.”
The song has become something of a rock anthem for Australians and the band is certainly chuffed by its success but Mark is reluctant to take the credit for that. “That’s a wonderful feeling,” he agrees, “but I had very little to do with that. That’s something that the Australian public has decided. They made it as big as it is and as important as it is for them. I really appreciate it and I love the fact that it’s such a successful song. You’re basically listening to a whole band’s history wound up in one song. It’s all there; everything.”
And while Choirboys are still gigging around the country, Mark is also working with another great rock band, consisting of members from various iconic bands including The Angels, AC/DC and Hush. The ‘supergroup’ goes by the name The Dinosaurs and, as the singer explains, at this stage it is a one-off project. “We’re putting down a few tracks and see what we sound like on record.” He has been working on some new songs for the band as well as writing new material for Choirboys, who are toying with the possibility of doing a blues/rock-based album. “More akin with how we started.” he explains. “Of course, once you go down the road of doing an album, it’s a commitment and so you really need to commit yourself to it and I have to decide to do that and say ‘for the next three months, I’m going to commit to doing a Choirboys album’. The timing has to be right.”
But Mark’s main focus these days is radio. “I’ve been doing radio on the Central Coast here with 2GO,” he informs me. “I love it! It’s actually called The Awesome Eighties. Naturally, they want me to talk about Eighties music which I seem to know a lot about but I also know a lot about music from all genres. I just get on there and tell stories and interview people and reflect on what a fabulous era the Eighties was.”
Doing the show, Mark hears some great tales from his peers and he related one of those stories to me, about an interview he did recently with Rick Grossman, bass player from The Divinyls. “He was telling me about a fight that he had with Chrissy Amphlett on William Street, outside The Divinyls Management office and they were having fisticuffs and yelling and screaming out on the street in front of the INXS office which was next door and all the guys from INXS were out on the balcony watching the fight. It would have been something to see but I’m glad I wasn’t around when it happened.” And who won? “I think that when they noticed that all the guys from INXS were watching the fight, they stopped fighting. But it was over, not so much the demise of the Divinyls, but Rick Grossman leaving, which Christina was very, very upset about. She was very disappointed that he was unable to play in the band so she was yelling and screaming at him about that.”
Of course, Mark has a few of his own memories of his times on the road in those awesome Eighties although, he admits, the whole thing does tend to become a bit of a blur. “But one memory sticks out more than any other,” he recalls. “Every time we played Geraldton, in Western Australia, something weird happened. The first time we played there, the audience would show their appreciation by throwing beer at the bands so every time we finished a song, we’d get covered in beer.” Well, there are worse things they could throw at you, I suggest. “Absolutely,” he agrees. “Chairs, people, cutlery…”
As for highlights from those times, Mark pinpoints two events, in particular, that have become etched in his mind. “I think that one of the most amazing things is when I heard, on Triple M, that ‘Run to Paradise’ was No.2. The following week, it went to No. 1 but when it was No. 2 in Sydney, I thought that was a spectacular achievement. I remember feeling a sense of arrival. That was about the only time that I felt that ‘I’ve arrived somewhere’ and I thought that it was an amazing achievement to have that happen.” Another defining moment for the singer was the first time the band went to America. “It was amazing because I thought ‘Finally, we’re in the United States of America! This is where the blues started, this is where rock and roll started; this is where everything started!’ They might not be the best at it but they certainly have been the biggest and loudest about it so just to be in America where it all started was an amazing circumstance for me.”
“It’s thirty five years now since we first started,” Mark informs me, “so it’s been rehearsals, driving, planes, interviews, recording, recording studios, rehearsal studios, more driving, more planes, motels, hotels and the whole thing… sound checks, working with road crews, signing autographs, It’s like literally everything I’ve mentioned there, done thousands and thousands of times.”
Choirboys started out as a garage band in the true sense of the word. “We used to rehearse in a friend’s parents’ garage,” the singer explains. “Then we went into a shop that was in a deserted building that we rented from somebody for about a year. We did recordings in there and we did rehearsals there. That was at Rosebery in Sydney. It was a classic garage band. We literally rehearsed in a garage.” Then they gave some demos to their friend, Ted Mulry Gang drummer, Herman Kovac. Herm passed the demos to George Young at Alberts. “And then George rang me up and said ‘I like what you’re getting together Mark’ and away we went… And then there was no turning back.”
“As George described it, ‘you’re on the treadmill’,” he reflects. He pauses a moment before adding “And it’s a wonderful treadmill.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2012 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.
Last updated by Rock Club 40 Apr 8, 2013.